Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In Which I Try to Find Out Whether I Have Cancer

So at the risk of getting very much too TMI on all (three of) my loyal readers, but in the interest of humor, let me share this little anecdote, and add that today I would have sold my soul to have a workspace that is private enough that half of a floor of a division of Time Inc. didn't just have to hear what went down in my office.

About a month ago I discovered (um, please don't ask how) a little bump in a place on my body that is somewhere above my inner thigh and somewhere below that place where babies come out. Fearing I had 1) finally contracted some bizarre, unheard of, falopian-tube scarring brand of STD that will leave me forever unable to procreate or 2) smoked my way into early-onset cancer of the pelvis, I made an appointment at the girl doctor.

Of course, I wasn't looking forward to this appointment. I have crappy freelancer insurance -- although don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for it -- but it means your doc selection is limited. Thusly, my gynecologist was about 12 years old and had to call in her supervisor to check out my snatch when she was done with me to make sure she hadn't misdiagnosed my bump. It's bad enough having one stranger peering between your legs (at least without being boozed up). But TWO?

The girl doctor assured me that I do NOT have some rare (or un-rare) strain of STD that I picked up back when I was sex-touristing over in the Philippines (just kidding! I mean about the sex touring -- I ACTUALLY don't have an STD). She said it was probably just a lymph node or maybe a clogged pore (!!) or sweat gland, from all the time I spend hanging from a climbing harness. However, she said, I should still get it a sonogram.

The implication being, of course, that I actually DO have cancer.


So on top of the news that I might have cancer, this means I have to call someone up, EXPLAIN that I may have some kind of really enjoyable genital cancer, and make an appointment. Now, it's hard enough finding a doctor in this town that ever has an appointment available, since New York is full of neurotic, self-obsessed hypochondriacs. Finding a doctor who has a desk staff with a working knowledge of English and a sense of tact is, I've since found, even tougher.

Of course, all this appointment-making has to be accomplished during working hours. Since I've been slaving away like a dog for the last two months while juggling two jobs, this means I have to do it in one of the offices. In the first office, I sit approximately 18 inches from three other people, so calling about my super-fun genital-cancer screening was out. Thankfully, my office at my second place of employment has a door.

Less fortunately, (and for no good reason whatsoever), the walls in my office don't reach all the way to the ceiling, so it provides little in the way of privacy if you're on the phone, talking to yourself or, in the case of the woman next door, replaying a Sarah McLachlan's "Fumbling Toward Ecstacy" album for the three hundred and forty seventh time in the last two months.

I'd already put off calling about my potential genital cancer for a couple weeks now because a temp was filling in for Ms. Sarah McLachlan next door and he NEVER LEFT HIS DESK so I could talk freely about the foreign mass residing in my nether regions.

But this week, Fumbling Toward Ecstacy was back and this afternoon decided to take an extended bathroom break. Now was my chance!

I called and as my hold time extended, I became more agitated. But I had already tried to call three times before and hadn't been able to go through with it. I had to stay on the line so I can at some point have a radiologist assure me that I won't have to get my genitals mutilated in order to remove a tumor.

Of course, at this point, Fumbling Toward Ecstacy returns to her office. I'm hoping to avoid specifics on the phone so as to keep the contents of my panties to myself.

Finally someone picks up and asks me what I want.

"Um, a sonogram. I was referred."

"For what part of the body?" (All her grunting, halted replies have been translated into common English for your ease of reading).

"Um, it's kind of like, my upper thigh?"

"Can you hold?"

"Sure, I guess."

"Miss? We don't do sonograms of the 'upper thigh.' What does your prescription note say?"

"It says, er, folliculits vs. LAD, I think. It's hard to read the writing. I don't know what either of those things mean. Can't you just call my doctor? I have her number."

"Can you hold?"


"That sounds like something [here she says some long word that contains the word vaginal] or [some other medical word]. We need the rest of the information off the paper."

"FINE. FINE!!! IT SAYS 'Sonogram. J GROIN MASS r/o folliculits vs. LAD. I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS!"

"Did you say a BRAIN mass? We don't do brain sonograms here."

"No, GROIN, GROIN, how many more times are you going to make me say it??!"

At this point, half of my division was probably what all the screaming about GROINS was about, and I wished desperately that I could sink into a hole in the earth.

Finally, after the woman on the phone, who is obviously unsympathetic toward cancer patients, determined I had been through enough humiliation, she let me make an appointment.

I'll let you all know at the end of May if I have some rare form of terminal genital cancer -- unless, that is, I die of embarassment first.


Anonymous todd said...

Well this is certainly a change from the usual. Uh, yeah. I really hope you don't have the cancer. Still, I have to admire your balls for going to the doctor in the first place. If you can go maybe I can sac up and go to see the doc about the recurring chest pains/left side tingling I've had the past few weeks. Why do we have to get old? Really, why do we?

4:24 AM  

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